Sitting in the staff room of Vincent Massey Collegiate in Crescent Park, 21-year-old Matthew Packer still feels like a high school student, not a University of Manitoba graduate with degrees in music and science who was just accepted early into the University’s medical school.
"It feels weird coming back," said Packer, who graduated in 2009. "But I get to say hello to all my old teachers, especially Ms. Dawson."
Jacquie Dawson, band teacher at Vincent Massey for 13 years, was Packer’s band teacher in Grades 10-12. He swears his success in university would not have been possible without everything he learned from Dawson.
"I think that recognition of teachers is so important," said Packer. "I know I wouldn’t have gone into music without her, she inspired me."
Packer honoured his favourite teacher May 8 after being asked by U of M to salute a university professor and a high school teacher that inspired him.
Dawson is very modest about the whole situation; she actually said Packer is an inspiration to her students today.
"The students here now, they may not know Matthew, but they know his name," said Dawson. "We talk about him all the time. ‘See what you can do if you work hard and persevere,’ we always say."
Though Dawson is modest, it isn’t every day that teachers are honoured. Her advice for new teachers is to love what you are doing.
"Try as much as you can to see the bigger picture," Dawson said. "It’s very, very common for us to get caught up in content, and deadlines, and the more tangible things but I think it’s really, really important to try to keep the vision as long term."
Dawson also said that it is important to remember that students are people with distinct gifts.
"We have to try to recognize their unique needs, their unique capacities and to just enjoy them and nurture them as people and future citizens," said Dawson.
In the end, Dawson is very flattered by being honoured by Packer.
"I think all teacher perceive there job as a bigger mission and purpose," she said. "I think through your subject you are teaching about life, and hoping to develop students into future citizens."
Packer is excited to head to medical school this fall but swears it would not have been possible with Dawson.
"She inspired me to push myself and not only to reach my goal of being a musician, but to be a good human being."